Make Music Pasadena

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This wonderfully ragtag, more-or-less unplugged, band was rocking Mills Alley next to Jake’s Diner in Old Pas late Saturday night, of and yet not of the wonderful Make Music Pasadena fest. More fringe, like. “Here come the po-po!” went someone in the crowd. But the cops backed off and turned away. The two songs I heard: “Billie Jean” and — most of the kids in the crowd probably didn’t know the tune — “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” One of the highlights of my evening.

Trip to Bandon


I was lucky enough to play the wild and isolated Bandon Dunes golf course on the southern Oregon coast — “The epicenter of golf on Planet Earth,” according to the head of the USGA — Saturday with filmmaker John Kent Harrison, now of Portland, formerly of La Canada. That’s John toward the rear, and caddies Al and Crazy with the bags up ahead. This was a rare dry moment during the weekend, closing up the wettest March on record in a place already famous for wet.

“Golf in the Kingdom” was filmed there, because it looks and feels more like Scotland than Scotland does. It was an almost entirely blissful, mystical experience — adventure golf.

Pasadena Festival of Women Authors


The Pasadena Festival of Women Authors on Saturday had a great line-up — Altadena novelist Michelle Huneven, top; Riverside novelist Susan Straight, second picture down; Heidi Durrow, whose “The Girl Who Fell from the Sky” was a New York Times best-seller; and Fannie Flagg, of “Fried Green Tomatoes” fame.

All gave moving and funny talks to a sold-out lunch crowd in the annual benefit for the Pasadena Senior Center.

Two of the above are also starring at our LitFest Pasadena March 17 in Central Park — Susan is on Jervey Tervalon’s morning panel, and I’ll be interviewing Michelle, along with Mona Simpson, in the early afternoon.

Be there!



Doing the Whole Foods thing on Saturday, grocery shopping as dear entertainment, I found this in the produce section. Broccoflower, I’m guessing — it wasn’t labeled. How could I not buy it and bring it home? Like a succulent, or a distant world, or, as Jeanne Kelley writes, like coral. We haven’t eaten it yet — will be a shame to break it up for the steamer or the toaster oven, in that peanut oil and salt way that caramelizes so nicely it makes even regular caulifower taste good.

Todd in town


Former Pasadena City Hall reporter Todd Ruiz was back in Pasadena for lunch last week at Sumi II — that’s Europane West, I suppose — a block from his old beat.

Ruiz has been living in Bangkok and blogging about political unrest and other news there for over a year. He also teaches English at Thailand’s oldest university. Next up is a radio gig at an English-language Internet station.

That’s a massive Kawasaki he’s about to mount with which his Dad is trying to lure him back stateside.

Pay to play in Arroyo Seco?


These guys — Dave Sams, director of golf operations at Brookside, and Bob Baderian, executive director of the First Tee Pasadena, the great golf-and-study-hall nonprofit — probably won’t ever have to pay to play in the Arroyo Seco. They work there.

But Thursday morning a group of consultants brought in by the city of Pasadena from the Urban Land Institute held a meeting in the Brookside clubhouse with interested Arroyo activists and neighbors, and, after several days of study, one of the notions they floated was the possibility of getting some cash flow out of one of the Southland’s premiere recreation areas by beginning to charge for parking.

Monetizing the Arroyo, in other words.

Now, before we go nuts here, I need to emphasize that this is just an idea. One that I’m not quite sure how I feel about, as someone who has lived on one edge, then the other, of the fabulous canyon that runs through the city’s west side since 1971. Pay parking has a way of creating those mixed feelings.

But one way to look at it is that we the taxpayers of Pasadena pay lots to keep up this playground of runners, cyclists, hikers, dog walkers, picnic-ers, golfers, Frisbee fliers, radio-controlled aircraft pilots and more …

People pay to park most everywhere else. And as smart city planners note, there is no such thing as “free” parking anyway, anymore than there is a free lunch. Someone paid for that parking place and its upkeep and the roads you took to get there and the congestion to which you added.

One part of the notion is to have a permit for city residents at let’s say $10 a year; non-residents might pay, say, $75. Cheap for what you get: One of the great places to recreate in the world.

Lots more expensive than “free,” though. And speaking as a guy who declines to pay for the stupid Adventure Pass in the forest because we already pay taxes for the forest, well, you’re speaking to someone conflicted about this idea.

More in my column posted online tonight and in Friday’s paper-paper.

Accidents in Abstract Painting


The controlled crash of Richard Jackson’s paint-filled radio-controlled airplane went off absolutely swimmingly Sunday in the Arroyo Seco after a half-hour or so of technical delay that only served to whip the huge crowd — who knew that a thousand or so people were so hungry for performance art? — into even more of a frenzy. After the problems with the plane’s tail were fixed, it took off easily, did a couple of slow turns around Area H south of the Rose Bowl, and, its nose loaded with paint-filled Christmas tree ornaments, smashed directly into its target, as planned, creating this painting, which will be on view at the Armory Center for the Arts in Old Pasadena.

Party at the mausoleum


The late artist Jae Carmichael was a descendant of the Giddings family, which founded Mountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum off Marengo in Altadena in 1882. She made these stained glass windows and installed them there as a kind of complement to the classic Tiffany and other stained glass fixtures in the gorgeous place. I took this pic the other day — Hipstamatic, my lens of choice, created the images other than in the rear and on top from reflections on the walls and the floor.

We’re having a party benefitting LitFest Pasadena, the literary festival coming March 17 to Central Park, there on Sunday, Jan. 29 from 3 to 6 featuring performances from Pasadena drama students and high school jazzters. Interested in attending at this gorgeous venue? Drop me a line at to get an emailed invitation.